Today's news

July 24, 2002

Academics urge Israel to end settlements
Several high-profile academics, including John Dunn, professor of political theory at Cambridge University, Frank Kermode, King Edward VII professor at Cambridge, and Martin Rees, the astronomer royal, have signed a joint letter calling on Israel to address the problem of illegal Jewish settlements on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. (The Times)

Ministers drop plans to censor academics
The government has climbed down over plans for a new Export Control Bill that led to accusations that it was attempting to stifle academic freedom. Science minister Lord Sainsbury moved an amendment yesterday to the bill that will preserve academics’ freedom to teach students sensitive information such as biotechnology and nuclear physics without requiring a licence from the Department of Trade and Industry, as had been mooted by the government. (The Independent)

Bosses' complaints lead to maths review
Complaints from universities and employers about numeracy have spurred a review of mathematics teaching in schools. Teaching methods, A levels and GCSEs in maths all needed to become more job-friendly, education secretary Estelle Morris said yesterday. (The Times)

Inquiry into 200 exam papers lost in post
An investigation was ordered yesterday after more than 200 national curriculum exam scripts were lost in the post. The test papers, sat by 13 and 14-year-olds at the Gilberd School in Colchester, vanished after being sent to a teacher for marking. (The Independent)

Toddlers turning into couch potatoes
Researchers have found that three and four-year-olds in Britain spend 80 per cent of their waking hours immobile. John Reilly, of Glasgow University, said parents were not ensuring that babies and toddlers had the same levels of physical play and activity as in the past. (The Daily Mail) 

PC ownership reaches 54 per cent
More than half of British homes, 54 per cent, now have a personal computer, and 74 per cent of the population has a mobile phone, according to a survey by the Work Foundation. (The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph)

Science of the rainmakers
Despite decades of anecdotal evidence that cloud seeding works, most scientists feel that they lack statistically significant data to prove that it is possible to create an artificial downpour. (The Daily Telegraph)   

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